However, BMW kidney grille and i8-style headlights.notwithstanding, having leaked from the Chinese trademark office, a question mark hangs over what the compact two-door coupe may be.
Some Chinese car manufacturers have been very 'flexible' in their willingness to adopt the design characteristics of successful brands and models. Ford and Suzuki, among others, have taken action in recent years to protect their designs from copycat manufacturers there (Ford got particularly steamed up when it found its iconic F150 being mirrored by the JAC 4R3).
So, what is it then?
The rear side glass picks up a version of BMW’s Hofmeister kink (something that’s missing from the i3) while the body sides taper towards the rear, giving a narrow rear track, and a teardrop shape when viewed from above.
The next i model set to appear should wear the i5 name, but BMW has promised that car will be a larger and more practical sedan to sit above the i3. The car in this rendering seems too small to be that car.
BMW has also mentioned that a hydrogen fuel cell is on its radar, having previously shown hydrogen powered derivatives of the existing i8, and 5 Series GT, but a production fuel cell vehicle isn’t scheduled to appear before 2020.
BMW’s current technology sharing agreement with Toyota sees the two pairing up for future developments of hydrogen technology.
Interestingly, the patent images reveal a fuel flap on each side of the vehicle. While hydrogen is a possibility, it could also signal a hybrid powertrain, with a power plug on one side, and a liquid fuel port (petrol, diesel, or even hydrogen) on the other.
But is it a BMW? Unlikely. The awkward upright imbalance of the rear design and the heavy-handed side-creases point to a more inexperienced hand than something from the pens of the master-designers at BMW.
And if not, the alarm bells will surely be ringing over that kidney grille.
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